BOSTON – The State University of New York system connection is beginning to run deep in the Boston University men’s basketball program. Head coach Joe Jones is an alumnus of SUNY Oswego, and the newest member of his staff is a fellow SUNY graduate.
Alington “Al” Paul, attended junior college at SUNY Dehli and received his associate’s degree and finished his collegiate career at Well’s College. He joined the Terriers staff as the Director of Player Development in early August and looks forward to his first season with a Division I basketball program.
“I’m learning how things operate within a Division I program,” Paul said. “Being around people that share the same goals as you, you just start to soak in all the knowledge that they have.”
The 25-year-old Paul graduated from Well’s College in 2014 after earning his associate’s degree from SUNY Dehli. As a 6-foot-4 forward, he played two years at each school and earned his bachelor’s degree in business as well.
He then served as a student assistant at Castleton University in Vermont for two seasons and spent two years at Putnam Science Academy as an assistant coach for the prep school’s boy’s basketball program. He also served as a history teacher and resident advisor at Putnam.
According to Putnam basketball’s Twitter account, Paul served an integral part in the development of seven high-major post players.
“It allowed me to network with a ton of Division I coaches from around the country,” Paul said. “I knew it was a great opportunity to work with the high level players and network with coaches coming into our gym.”
Paul first encountered Jones at the Adidas Gauntlet AAU Circuit in New York and visited Boston for an interview and meeting with the team before his recent hiring. After a few weeks, Jones called Paul and offered him the position.
Paul’s job is moreso about “making the players better people first.” He works with Boston University Athletics Director of Leadership and Development Dr. Marissa Nichols on various programs for the men’s basketball team. Paul also aids as an academic service liaison and operations coordinator for the team and its individual players.
“He has his hand in most things that we’re doing, but a lot of it is the overall development of our players,” Jones said.
Paul’s career aspirations are to become an assistant, and later a head coach at the Division I level. Despite not working on the court with the players as much as other members of the staff in his current position, both he and Jones see it as an opportunity to spring upward mobility.
“I just wanted to get back into college coaching, gain more experience and move forward,” Paul said.
In a flurry of moves for the men’s basketball staff, Paul initially caught wind of an opening as the team’s video coordinator through a mutual friend with current Director of Operations John Papale. Papale served as the video coordinator last season, but with the departure of former director of basketball operations Jimmie Oakman to the Long Island Nets, Papale earned a promotion.
Former associate head coach Jack Perri landed a head coaching gig at Division II Southern New Hampshire University and was replaced by Mike Quinn. Jones hired former Division III Colby College assistant Steve Ongley as the team’s video coordinator before bringing Paul on to complete the staff.
In the past, Paul’s position was titled Special Assistant to the Head Coach, but with his vast experience, Jones changed it to Director of Player Development as the role took on new form.
“He wanted to stray away from that name,” Paul said of the position’s former title. “He felt that I could gain more experience, do something different than the average guy in the special assistant position.”
“He’s got a lot of experience leading up to this position,” Jones said. “There’s a ton of things that he does.”
Jones hails from Suffolk County in Long Island, Paul from Nassau County. Previously, Jones served as an assistant at Hofstra University, so the duo has many mutual friends. One of which, Paul’s former high school teacher and a Terrier basketball alumnus, offered a three page reference on Paul’s behalf after he got the job.
“He knew one of my mentors, my seventh grade teacher,” Paul said. “My teacher also used to work me out.”
If the endearing reference is any precursor to the job Paul will do, Jones will be pleased.
“One of the best references I’ve ever gotten,” said. “He’s got a great reputation. He’s got all the ingredients to be really good at this.”
Paul also said Jones is one of his mentors: A Division III player with a Division I head coaching job and a bevy of commonalities.
“He’s a great role model for me because he’s an African-American male and a head coach,” Paul said. “I personally don’t know too many Division I African-American male head coaches today, so that’s really big.
“I see that I can do this one day.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky